Dubai, UAE, February 8, 2004: Five years ago, a petit 15 year-old Australian stood in front of the local press in Dubai and declared that she would one day become the world's No 1 tennis player.
Jelena Dokic was competing in a satellite event in 1999 and while she didn't win the tournament, she showed her potential with some exhilarating tennis.
The world got a
glimpse of what Dubai had already seen later that year when she caused one of the biggest upsets in recent times by beating the all-conquering Martina Hingis in the first round at Wimbledon.
Dokic has gone on to be one of the game's biggest draws and she is all set to make her first appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open when she will take her place alongside the likes of Justine Henin-Hardenne, Venus Williams and Amelie Mauresmo from February 23-28.
"It's marvelous for the tournament to welcome a player like Jelena for the first time," said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organisers. "Injury has hampered her progress up the world rankings in the past year but she will come to Dubai fully fit and confident of making an immediate impression."
The youngster has attracted her fair share of controversy during her short career due to her over protective father and the decision to change her nationality back to Serbian.
Nagging injuries have kept her sidelined for the past few months, but a rejuvenated Dokic will arrive in Dubai desperate to cement a position among the world's elite.
"I made some coaching changes, which was a big key for me," said the 20 year-old. "And I'm much more motivated, I'm much more positive and I want it a lot more. I'm more hungry than I was before. And I'm not tired at all. I think I've practiced more than I've played matches."
Dokic is one of 12 top 20 players confirmed for the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open, which forms the first week of the fortnight-long Dubai Tennis Championships. The second week sees the ATP Tour's top players compete in the $1 million Dubai Duty Free Men's Open.
Tickets, priced at Dhs30 for the first three days of each event, Dhs40 for the quarter-finals, Dhs60 for the semi-finals and Dhs100 for the finals, are available from the Dubai Tennis Stadium Box Office, select Fono outlets, the adidas store in Deira City Centre and the Time Out Ticketline on 800-4669 or www.itptickets.com.